Cap Istanbul. The Mistral is a teasing wind. Various well informed authorities on the matter announced it to be to the west of Cap Camaret but it finally ended up by scooping up the head of the fleet off the bay of Ajaccio. The upshot of this was that those on a direct course reaped the rewards of their simple option.
In times gone by certain meteorologists in the Place de Grève would have been burnt at the stake for being associated with witchcraft: how else can you explain the NW’ly breeze, a remnant of the tail of the Mistral, initially settling over the southern sector of the race zone? And yet it may not be down to chance that the majority of the frontrunners in this first stage of the 'European Capital of Culture – Cap Istanbul' are locals to this sea, which is complicated in the extreme. Faced with this complexity, the best attitude at times is to stick to basics.
Nicolas Bérenger described the atmosphere this morning: 'There were a lot of models which suggested we hunt down the W’ly breeze by sailing along the coast. Yet I know only too well how much the landforms of the Var region can disturb the weather phenomena. Just so long as I was able to have a trajectory close to the direct course, I didn’t think about it too much.' In this particular game, those who took the western option lost out big time. In this way, at the noon ranking some of the serious players, such as Jeanne Grégoire, Fred Duthil and also Nicolas Troussel could be found right down beyond twenty-fifth place.
Off Bonifacio, with the wind picking up to 30 to 35 knots, the only ‘western wanderer’, Eric Drouglazet, was smoking along at an average of over fourteen knots. The skipper of Luisina had, in his own words, been biding his time to shift across to the west with the help of the calms as the night came to an end. ‘Droug’, as he is known, is renowned for relishing doing battle with the elements, and positioned at the head of the fleet with a lead of nearly eight miles over his pursuers, it would be rather surprising if the skipper from the Finistére in NW France agreed to let himself be outflanked despite the efforts of the ‘southern’ sailors hot on his heels, a posse led by Christopher Pratt. It was Breton Gildas Mahé leading during the Alpes Maritimes Trophée, today it is his fellow Breton, Eric Drouglazet.
The group right out to the west still have a few opportunities with which to save their honour however. Along the coast of Sardinia, it is Nicolas Bérenger from La Grande Motte who is leading the fleet under spinnaker. Among the fleet there are likely to be a few victims of renown but we shall have to wait until late tonight or early tomorrow morning to see who makes good speed to the bay of Cagliari. Quotes from the boats: Nicolas Bérenger, Kone Elevators.
'All’s well and I’m happy with my decisions. François Gabart sailed well last night. Sadly for him, he suddenly fell into a light patch and I managed to get past him. You can count on me, I’m not going to quit.' François Gabart, Espoir Région Bretagne.
'It wasn’t an easy night with light wind, a swell and flogging sails. I made the most of the morning and the steady wind to rest before the NW’ly breeze kicked in. Other than that I’m having a ball.'